*Pays tribute to troops, pledges continued support
*Visits wounded soldiers, IDPs from Baga, others
BY BEN AGANDE & NDAHI MARAMA
MAIDUGURI—President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, visited Borno State for the second time since a state of emergency was declared in the three north eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe following the killings of thousands of people by Boko Haram insurgents.
He told the troops that the Federal Government had approved new incentives to enable them to “crush the insurgents once and for all.”
Jonathan first visited the state in June 2013, and had not been in the state since the abduction of more than 219 students of the Government Girls’ Secondary School, GGSS, Chibok, on April 14, last year.
Addressing officers and men of the 7 Division, Nigerian Army at the Maimalari Barracks, Maiduguri, Jonathan commended them for their gallantry and patriotism by standing their grounds to confront the Boko Haram insurgency.
He also reassured the Military of his administration’s total support in the fight against terrorism in some parts of the country.
Pays tribute to gallant soldiers
Jonathan said that he was in Maiduguri as part of the programmes marking this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day, pointing out that the purpose was to identify with the military, particularly those who were in the war zone tackling activities of Boko Haram.
“I want to sincerely thank you, members of the Nigerian Armed Forces for your sustained effort in the fight against Boko Haram and other extremists in the country.
“Day and night, you have been on the field to curtail this madness of Boko Haram. Some of you have paid the supreme price for your fatherland and we as government will do everything possible to support you and kit you in all ramifications.
“Your total commitment and dedication to duty to ensure peace and tranquility is much more appreciated and I want to assure you that your welfare will always be adequately taken care of by the Federal Government,” Jonathan said.
Visits wounded soldiers, IDPs
He also took time to visit some officers and men who sustained injuries in the war against the insurgents at the military hospital in the Maimalari Barracks.
He later held a closed-door meeting with the wounded soldiers in the hospital before visiting thousands of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, from Baga, Kukawa, Monguno and other places taking refuge at Teachers Village and other camps in the state.
Jonathan sympathised with the IDPs, especially those who lost their beloved ones apart from being driven away from their ancestral homes. He assured them that the Federal Government and the security agencies were doing everything possible to ensure peace so that they can go back to their homes and continue their normal lives.
He informed them that the government, through the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, had begun the distribution of relief materials to victims of Boko Haram in the state and the north east in general and urged them to take what happened to them as an act of God, even as he solicited their prayers for restoration of peace as well as a hitch-free elections next month.
“Terrorism and insurgency have been very traumatic for all of us. I feel particularly disturbed when I hear of our people being displaced within their own country.
“I assure you and other displaced persons that Government is working very hard to ensure that you do not remain in these camps for too long.
“I know that many of your houses have been destroyed. We will assist you financially so that you can rebuild your homes and return to them gradually,” President Jonathan told the displaced persons.
“In terms of equipment and logistics, we have already made considerable progress since the insurgency started and we will continue to improve in that regard until your operations are successfully concluded,” he told the soldiers.
The President thanked the Red Cross and other international organizations who have been assisting in the provision of relief materials to the displaced persons.
He also charged local, state and federal government officials to work with greater harmony and cooperation in rendering support to the displaced persons.
“I do not want to be receiving conflicting reports on support being given to them. Government is one and we must all work together to assist our people whenever the need arises.
“We must cooperate maximally and work together at the local government, state and federal levels to ensure that our people who are unfortunately displaced from their homes get the best possible treatment,” President Jonathan said.
The President who landed at the Maiduguri International Airport at about 3pm was received by Governor Kashim Shettima.
He was accompanied on the visit by the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki, ret; the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alex Bade; Chief of Army staff, Lt. General Kenneth Minimah, and the Director General, NEMA, among others.
The reception at the airport was low-keyed as there was no political colouration even as the Minister of State for Power, Muhammed Wakil and other top PDP big shots who had been in town since Monday were all conspicuously absent.
From the airport, Jonathan was driven straight to Maimalari Barracks amid tight security, where he addressed the troops. All roads leading to the airport from the city were closed for motorists.